Ivey-Soto bill raises conflict of interest questions

A bill meant to modernize New Mexico’s marriage laws would increase the money people pay to the state’s county clerks for a marriage license. Meanwhile, the bill’s sponsor, Democratic State Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, is paid by numerous county clerks on a contract basis for technical, legal and training services. 

As the State Ethics Commission investigates complaints made last year that accuse Ivey-Soto, in part, of using his position as a lawmaker to curry favor with his clients, lawmakers are considering Ivey-Soto’s House Bill 242. The legislation’s aim, according to Ivey-Soto and his co-sponsor, Rep. Doreen Gallegos, a Doña Ana County Democrat, is to dust Victorian era moral codes off New Mexico’s books. For instance, it would prohibit  marriage of 16 and 17 year olds, which are allowed with parental consent, to people more than four years older than they are. The bill also allows anyone over the age of 21 selected by the couple to officiate at a wedding.

How one influential NM powerbroker might have escaped a drunken driving charge

Just after midnight on May 20, Albuquerque Police Officer Joshua Montaño saw a luxury sedan veer into a turn bay blocked off by bright orange traffic barrels before it pulled back over a solid divider line onto an Interstate 25 frontage road. Montaño flipped on his emergency police lights and the 2004 Infiniti stopped in the parking lot of the Marriott Pyramid, a high-end hotel in Northeast Albuquerque. A veteran DWI cop who has conducted hundreds of drunken driving investigations, Montaño approached the vehicle on foot. He was armed with a slew of additional information gleaned from a police service aide and a concerned citizen: The Infiniti’s driver had swerved numerous times traveling northbound from downtown Albuquerque, he’d delayed proceeding through a green light by 10 seconds, he’d driven 10 mph under the posted speed limit, and he’d done it all with his headlights turned off. In the driver’s seat of the car was Ryan Flynn, 39, Gov. Susana Martinez’ former cabinet secretary of the New Mexico Environment Department, who left that job in 2016 to become executive director of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association.